Holy Continuance, Batman!
by Thomas MacMillan | Aug 15, 2012 11:30 am
Posted to: Legal Writes
A pistol-packing moviegoer landed in a familiar spot Wednesday: the Elm Street courthouse. This time he played the role of defendant, not lawyer—as his own lawyer sought to change the subject of the charges against him.
The defendant, Sung-Ho Hwang, appeared on charges of breach of peace and interfering, stemming from an Aug. 7 incident at the Criterion movie theater downtown. Hwang was arrested there after bringing a loaded .40-caliber Glock pistol to a showing of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Night Rises.” He had a permit for the pistol. He was charged for allegedly refusing the orders of cops who stormed the theater after hearing reports of an armed man there. Hwang allegedly laughed and used his cell phone as police pointed their guns at him and demanded he show his hands.
The New Haven incident came on the heels of a July 20 massacre in Aurora, Colorado, in which a heavily armed man opened fire in a crowded showing of “The Dark Night Rises,” killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.
Following Hwang’s arrest he and Mayor John DeStefano staged dueling press conferences at which Hwang said the 2nd Amendment was under attack and DeStefano suggested the city have a discussion about the role of guns in public places. He questioned whether there is a place for guns in movie theaters. Hwang said he was packing heat because the movie was getting out late and he wanted to have protection on the walk home to his downtown condo.
On Wednesday morning, Hwang showed up in court wearing a blue shirt and gold tie under a black suit. He walked behind the bar that usually separates lawyers from their clients. Hwang, a respected member of the local bar, greeted his fellow attorneys warmly as he waited to be called.
The proceedings, which began shortly after 10 a.m., were brief. Judge Susan Connors granted a continuance so that state prosecutor David Strollo could complete discovery. She set a new court date for Sept. 5.
Afterwards, out in the hallway, Hwang declined to speak with the press. Instead, his attorney, Hugh Keefe, obliged. Keefe repeatedly framed the issue as whether Hwang had a right to carry a gun.
Keefe (pictured) was asked about a detailed account from the cop who arrested Hwang. (Read it here.) The officer, Sgt. Rob Criscuolo, said the arrest had nothing to do with gun offenses, but rather Hwang’s alleged bizarre refusal to comply with police demands in a tense, potentially dangerous situation.
Keefe called Criscuolo’s account “interesting.”
“It’s not an accurate account,” Keefe said. He declined to say what did happen in the theater, if the police account is untrue. “That’s what courts are for.”
He said later that Hwang cooperated with police when they ordered him to raise his hands.
Hwang has not entered a plea. If he does, it will be “not guilty,” Keefe said. The case might be disposed of without a plea being entered, he said.
It was a “bad arrest,” Keefe said. Hwang is a “totally innocent person” who was simply trying to see a movie, when he found himself surrounded by cops pointing guns at him. “Clearly that does not have a positive effect on him.”
Hwang was lawfully carrying his permitted pistol, Keefe said.
Tags: Sung-Ho Hwang, Batman
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Hope Hwang gets pinned on some charge as he is just a publicity hound wasting folks time as I see it.
Maybe he at least he gets stuck with Keefe’s high fees, or do they do this stuff for each other “pro bono”?
Can’t wait to see Hwang’s account of what went down in the theater.
it really does’t matter what the outcome is—-other than another lawsuit the taxpayers will have to pay because of destefano’s ignorance!!
“Clearly that does not have a positive effect on him.”
then he should be able to understand how HIS gun didn’t have a “positive effect” on the other patrons of the movie theater, so soon after a national tragedy.
posted by: cwhig on August 15, 2012 3:24pm
There is something profoundly disturbed about bringing a loaded Glock to a showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Whatever the legality (and if it’s legal, what does that say about our society?), that was a brain-dead, not to say twisted, thing to do. Hugh Keefe’s a great lawyer; if he’s a great counselor as well, he’ll convince Hwang to seek help.
posted by: NhvOrg on August 15, 2012 5:34pm
Gettin’ fancy with the camera, Tommy! Nice DOF in the 2nd photo. And he’s a lawyer! Didn’t know that one. Also i am entertained by the new “comment spell check” recommendations for “gettin”
I’m with Walt on this one. He’s creating a “damned if you do damned if you don’t” situation for the police and hoping to be an NPR commentator some day.
Concealed carry means nobody knows you are wearing a gun until you need it to defend you life. If the cops found it, he didn’t conceal the fact he was wearing it very well. And if a cop asks if you are carrying as part of a routine check, you show them your permit, say yes, and ask what them want you to do next. Most of the time they ask you some questions and send you on your way.
Pay attention in permit class next time, Hwang. They only go over this sixty or more times. You are lucky you didn’t get shot.
In response to David S. Baker, in this State you can carry concealed or open view; you are not required to conceal.
Although Mr. Hwang’s conduct may have caused some disquiet, such was not the intent. An unnatural fear of guns permeates our society by design and willful malice by persons with ulterior motives.
We should not stand idly by whilst our State and Federal Constitutional freedoms are being whittled away by a cadre of malicious near-do-well neanderthals and troglodytes passing off as guardians of social mores.
Have to second NhvOrg’s comments on the photos. Great shots there. The article is well written as always. Informative and tightly written.
Did this law change? I think you might have confused ‘handgun’ with ‘firearm’. It is hard to conceal carry something like a deer rifle, so we are still allowed to have it out in the open. CT has ‘carry permits’ but they only issue ‘concealed carry’ permits correct? I have not heard of any other type. Also factor in city ordinances… New Haven permit application required police interviews and had a whole other set of rules. Wear a fixed blade knife into Manhattan some day if you want an extreme tutorial. Mind you, I went thru this process over 10 years ago, and these things change constantly. And in spite of the enormous background check and other verifications they sure don’t send you any updates on the laws they taught in class.
Please inform if otherwise so I can get my Pancho Villa bandoleers out on my walks to the Pizza place.
David S Baker,
You are misinformed. Connecticut does not issue “concealed weapons permits,” they issue a “Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers.” There is no law mandated concealed carry in this state. I’m not sure there ever was, its just a very common misconception/assumption. The state has said multiple times that open carry IS legal in CT, despite what many police officers are taught.
I believe the only city in CT that prohibits open carry is New Britain, but I don’t think that’s been challenged in court yet, because they will lose.
All charges will be thrown out. CT is an open carry State. Permit is to carry pistol or revolver. A person and Officer’s peace can not be breached when legally carrying. All cases in CT have been dismissed. Federal civil case indemnities police from civil litigation only. Federal courts need to make a ruling or false arrests will continue.
Some states dont require a conceal permit unless you want to conceal, other than that it MUST be visible. Dont be scared of guns, be scared of a lawless community.
Wait wait wait… let me get this straight. You are saying, I and some of my gun nut buddies can slap on our pistol belts, sling a rifle over our shoulders, and go down to the green and play frisbee?! And it’s perfectly LEGAL!?
HELLS YEAH! I know what I’M doing this weekend!!!
(Probably getting a visit from the police for this comment…)
“I believe the only city in CT that prohibits open carry is New Britain, but I don’t think that’s been challenged in court yet, because they will lose.”
New Britain bans “concealed carry” not “open carry”. If a law abiding citizen wants to go in public with their gun in New Britain it must not be concealed. Criminals are allowed to carry their weapons however they please.
Hey, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is playing tonight at the Criterion. I should bring my six year-old child just to demonstrate the principle that it’s not illegal!
Going to a movie with your child is not a Constitutional Right but bearing arms is. CT is an open carry state. The permit holder can carry open or concealed it’s their choice. You can carry everywhere unless otherwise restricted by law. If you want to play frisbee while you legally carry openly then you can. Carrying openly does not give police reasonable suspicion for a detention because it is legal. No detention no charge for Interefence. Again, one carrying legally can not breach a citizen’s peace or a police officer’s peace. No detention means no frisking for weapons. The police can not take your legally carried firearm, this is an illegal search and seizure.